Miniature stroke or Mini-stroke is a form of brain stroke. It is also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) medically. It is also referred to as “ministroke”. It occurs when a part of the brain faces a lack of blood flow on a temporary basis, usually for no more than 5 minutes. Usually, it is recovered within 24 hours. Consulting your doctor immediately is highly recommended if you develop frequent ministrokes, mini-strokes, or miniature strokes.
Miniature Stroke Symptoms
It is hard to say clearly about its apparent symptoms because similar symptoms may appear for other problem, illness, or disease.
Following are the symptoms of miniature stroke:-
- dysphasia, a language disorder
- dysarthria, or physical difficulty when speaking
- vision changes, double vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- balance issues
- an altered level of consciousness
- passing out
- severe headache
- an abnormal sense of taste
- an abnormal sense of smell
- weakness or numbness on just the right or left side of the face or body, determined by the location of the blood clot in the brain
Causes of Miniature Stroke
Problems in the regular blood flow can cause a miniature stroke at first. If the situation becomes worst, it may cause severe stroke conditions and may lead to death.
Blood clots are one of the most common cause of miniature stroke.
Following are the causes of miniature stroke: –
- hypertension, or high blood pressure
- atherosclerosis, or narrowed arteries caused by plaque buildup, in or around the brain
- carotid artery disease, which occurs when the internal or external carotid artery of the brain is blocked (usually caused by atherosclerosis)
- high cholesterol
Diagnosis of Miniature Stroke
Miniature stroke doesn’t cause permanent disabilities. As mentioned earlier the miniature stroke symptoms are hard to differentiate sometimes because all strokes have similar initial symptoms. Therefore, miniature diagnosis may include multiple tests to figure if it’s a temporary blood flow blockage or a serious one.
Your doctor may order various diagnostic tests, such as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computerized tomography (CT) scan, to help determine what caused the TIA. In some cases, MRI scan results to find stroke are faster than CT scans.
You may also need tests such as heart rhythm monitoring, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or CT angiography (CTA) to look for possible heart- or blood vessel-related causes.
TIA Stroke or Miniature Stroke Treatment
Depending on the underlying cause, you may need medication to prevent blood clots or a procedure to remove fatty deposits (plaques) from the arteries that supply blood to your brain (carotid endarterectomy).
As it’s a transient stroke or a mini stroke so it’s self-resolving most of the times. Following are the treatments that help you to recover from miniature stroke or TIA stroke:-
Changing lifestyle to the Mediterranean diet can reduce stroke risk in patients without cerebrovascular disease. Lifestyle modification to treat mini-stroke includes: –
- Blood pressure control
- Cholesterol Control
- Diabetes Control
- And more as listed in prevention section
The anti-platelet medications, aspirin and clopidogrel, are both recommended for secondary prevention of stroke after high risk TIAs.
Anticoagulants may be started if the TIA is thought to be attributable to atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is a common anticoagulant used, but direct acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs), such as apixaban, have been shown to be equally effective while also conferring a lower risk of bleeding.
If the patient has symptomatic coronary artery disease in addition to atrial fibrillation, combined antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapy may be warranted. However, generally, anticoagulants and antiplatelets are not used in combination, as they result in increased bleeding risk without a decrease in stroke risk.
Depending upon the age and diagnosis of your ministroke or miniature stroke, your doctor may refer to surgery to reduce the risk of future strokes.
Carotid Endarterectomy Surgery
If the stenosis is above 50% which is known as extra-cranial carotid artery stenosis, carotid endarterectomy surgery is recommended.
The efficacy of carotid endarterectomy or carotid artery stenting in reducing stroke risk in patients with intra-cranial carotid artery stenosis is currently unknown.
Risk Factors of Miniature Stroke or Ministroke (TIA)
TIA stroke can lead to multiple risk factors as follows: –
- More than a third of people who have a TIA and don’t get treatment have a major stroke within 1 year. As many as 10% to 15% of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.
- A TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke.
- A TIA is a medical emergency, just like a major stroke.
- There is no way to know in the beginning whether symptoms are from a TIA or from a major type of stroke.
Risk factors associated with TIA are also categorized as modifiable or non-modifiable.
Non-modifiable risk factors include age greater than 55, sex, family history, genetics, and race/ethnicity.
Ministroke (TIA) stoke Modifiable risk factors include: –
- cigarette smoking
- hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
- level of carotid artery stenosis (asymptomatic or symptomatic)
- routine activity level
The modifiable risk factors are commonly targeted in treatment options to attempt to minimize the risk of TIA stroke or miniature stroke.
Prevention from Miniature Stroke / TIA Stroke / MiniStroke
Although there is a lack of robust studies demonstrating the efficacy of lifestyle changes in preventing TIA, many medical professionals recommend them. These include: –
- Avoiding smoking
- Cutting down on fats to help reduce the amount of plaque buildup
- Eating a healthy diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Limiting sodium in the diet, thereby reducing blood pressure
- Exercising regularly
- Moderating intake of alcohol, stimulants, sympathomimetics, etc.
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Controlling Hypertension and Reducing Stress
- Controlling High cholesterol
- Control on Diabetes mellitus
- Controlling Atrial fibrillation
Ministroke (TIA) / Miniature Stroke FAQs
TIAs or ministrokes or miniature strokes typically do not cause permanent brain damage and do not immediately lead to death. However, it’s a sign of future stroke and still medical attention should be considered.
If left untreated, TIAs can be followed by more severe strokes that can result in permanent damage to your body, even death. In fact, about one in three people who have a TIA suffer a stroke within the next year.
It is called as Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). It is also referred to ‘ministroke’.
For people who have had a stroke: Aspirin can help prevent a second stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is often a warning sign of a stroke. Aspirin lowers the risk of heart attack. But aspirin can also cause serious bleeding. Therefore, seeking medical attention is recommended.